Sherlock mini episode Many Happy Returns racks up over 6m views on iPlayer, Red Button and YouTube

Sherlock fans have flocked to BBC’s digital services ahead of series 3 to watch the 7 minute micro-story starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

Sherlock fans have shown their dedication to the BBC series by watching the series 3 prequel mini-episode, Many Happy Returns, more than six million times.


The seven-minute show, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and John Watson, debuted on BBC iPlayer on Christmas Eve and has been available since Christmas Day on the Red Button. In under a week the episode has been viewed 1.5 million times in the UK on iPlayer and Red Button, with a further 4.7m views on the BBC’s official YouTube channel. 

“There’s been an amazing response to ‘Many Happy Returns.’” Said co-creator Mark Gatiss of the story that follows a series of seemingly unconnected crimes from Tibet to Germany.

He added: “It vividly demonstrates that we’re all enjoying TV in different ways now. Four-and-a-half million viewers on YouTube, one-and-a-half across BBC Red Button and BBC iPlayer! And just for seven minutes of ‘Sherlock’. Happily, there’s another 90 minutes coming on BBC1, New Year’s Day!”

Fans have had to wait two years for the third series of Sherlock, but the wait is very nearly over as the first of three 90-minute episodes will air on BBC1 on New Year’s Day at 9pm.  The Empty Hearse promises to finally answer the question, ‘how did Sherlock survive the Reichenbach Fall?’

Written and created by Mark Gatiss and Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, Sherlock has become one of the BBC’s biggest dramas since it first screened in July 2010. 


Victoria Jaye, Head of TV content, BBC iPlayer, said: “We’re delighted that the audience in their millions enjoyed the Sherlock mini-sode we commissioned exclusively for BBC iPlayer. The art of a powerful drama mini-sode is delivering a story that entertains in its own right, as well as builds excitement for a new series. As we develop BBC iPlayer to be a primary entertainment destination, we’ll be offering more ‘made for BBC iPlayer content’ around our big brands, as well as originating entirely new formats exclusive to the service.”